In the heart of Surat district, nestled amidst the verdant landscapes, lies the village of Pinjrat. Home to 86 families, this village is located next to a water stream, with its inhabitants primarily depending on agriculture for their livelihood. For years, they relied on a diesel-powered irrigation system, a method that was not only costly but also environmentally unfriendly.

The farmers often found themselves without access to the diesel-powered irrigation system, forcing them to pay extra and rely on outside help to irrigate their fields. The arduous 10 km walk to fetch water from the stream was a daily ordeal. There were times when they couldn’t even set up irrigation for their crops, leading to reduced output and income.

Compelled to seek alternative employment opportunities, such as manual labour, to supplement their income and fund their irrigation system, the farmers eventually reached a point where they could no longer afford to operate the diesel motor pump.

In 2020, CARE India, with the support of Shell India Pvt Ltd, initiated a solar lift irrigation programme after learning about these issues at the annual meeting. The organisations were already working in the area to improve agricultural methods.

An exposure visit was organised for these farmers to the Dundhi village in the Kheda district, where a similar system was already in operation. The visit helped them understand the economic and environmental benefits of the system.

Excited by the project, representatives from 96 homes in Pinjrat formed the "Sichai Samiti,” a Solar User Group (SUG) that would install and maintain the solar lift irrigation system. To ensure the success of this technical installation, farmers received assistance with administrative facilities and small loans, as this system required initial investment.

The results were transformative. Farmers who used solar irrigation paid INR 36,675 instead of INR 4,51,200 for three irrigations throughout one crop cycle, saving a total of INR 4,14,525. The solar-powered lift irrigation system also reduced travel time, as each farm was connected with pipelines.

The new system ensures that farmers in Pinjrat can grow vegetables even in summer and winter seasons when water becomes scarce. “By saving money, we have also saved time which we spend on other activities. It has enabled us to spend more time with our families and enhance our incomes,” remarked the farmers who benefited from the initiative.

About The Programme

The Secure and Resilient Livelihoods (SRL) programme, supported by Shell Energy Private Limited, aims to promote more secure and resilient livelihoods for 5750 poor smallholder/forest fringe households. The programme ensures their productive and equitable participation in a sustainable agriculture-livestock production system among the smallholder communities in Gujarat. Under this programme, 94 farmers in the area experienced a higher income by using a solar lift irrigation system, covering a total of 94 acres of farmland. The story of Pinjrat village is a testament to the transformative power of this programme, showcasing how green and innovative solutions can empower farmers and transform agriculture.